Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cranio - Lost In London

Zero Cool Gallery @ Red Bull Studios, London
Nov 16th – 19th 2012

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Interesting opening in London this week of Cranio’s show “Lost in London” . Interesting because this guy’s work is beautiful, obviously, but also because the question arises “how come we see so little Brazilian street art talent in the UK?”

Cranio feat DScreet
Cranio, DScreet (detail)

After loving Cranio’s work by proxy on the net for the past 4 years it was a great thrill when his presence in London was recently revealed by the whiff of spraypaint on Brick Lane.

Cranio (Brazil)

A few nights later, more Cranio work appeared in Hackney Wick.

Sweet Toof, Cranio
Cranio, Sweet Toof

Several other shutters have been painted and most recently, we chanced upon him again decorating the outside of a Brazilian restaurant on Rivington St.

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The gallery show is a straight forward hand of some ten or so cartoon portraits, compositions featuring our hero lost among totemic London iconography and some Brazilian surrealism.

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Cranio - Hitting The New Beast
Hitting The New Beast

Cranio’s figures are Brazilian rainforest Indians painted wearing their party suits – blue body paint and solid red stripes across their eyes. Solid black across the eyes means war apparently. The two streams of coherence running through this show concern Brazilians on the lash and a Brazilian writer getting up in London.

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Portrait I

The paintings are actually a record of Cranio’s despair at the fate of the rainforest Indians who sell up their land for deforestation and with the loot go and party with western hairstyles, western goods but no realisation that the deal bartered away their culture as well as their homelands.

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Consumerist Turist

Speaking of Brazilians in London, back to that question, why so few Brazilians in the UK? The Os Gemeos twins did a couple of huge commissions a few years back but I don’t recall any UK solo shows; Titifreak has been over once or twice (2009, O Contemporary), Milo Tchais is semi-permanent resident but generally we seem to see far fewer visiting Brazilian artists that our friends in USA or mainland Europe. So hats off to Cranio and lovely to see him poking fun at his experience as a Brazilian native painting in London.

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Big Bus

The rich and vibrant colours work incredibly well in Cranio’s work outdoors, the characters always pop off dark backgrounds so brighter backgrounds on a few of the canvasses in this show came as a bit of a surprise.

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Red Bull Gives You Wings

You may also notice that both on the canvas and outdoors Cranio has avoided full on Pixacao. Cranio’s view is that Pixacao is a true Brazilian culture and it lives only in Brazil. Fair enough, good on him for not exploiting it abroad.

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If This Was My Street

One more thing that beggars belief, all the way from Brazil, three or four weeks in open for just four days!

Cranio Show, London

More pics here

Cranio's flicks here

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Pablo Delgado: The Second Thirds

Pure Evil Gallery
108 Leonard St, London
4 - 28 Oct 2012

All photos by NoLionsInEngland

Lilliputian tableaus started appearing at ground level in London about 2 years ago, firstly there were Georgian doorways, then a diaspora of ladies plying a darker trade followed more recently by surreal man-animal-space vehicle compositions. Figures and animals were always emphasised with shadows painted on the pavement.

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Gullible's Travels - stalking Pablo Delgado lolitas

Pablo Delgado

The artist responsible was Mexican Pablo Delgado, resident in London. A brief small scale show in the Pure Evil gallery in late 2011 was followed by a major automobile work at the Banger Art show in June of this year.

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Banger Art

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Pablo Delgado, Aida at Banger Art

The Banger Art show marked Delgado as a serious worker of themes and concepts., the current show at Pure Evil gallery is going to open the eyes of anyone who thought Delgado just worked with magazine cut outs slapped on a wall. Upstairs are a couple of large framed compositions whose cut out figures are said by Deglado to represent where all his work begins, the selection of figures.

Pablo Delgado @ Pure Evil Gallery

The most fascinating pieces downstairs are a collection of 6 mirrored tableaus, the outlines of figures are raised from the surface of a card mounted on a circular frame and hung so that anyone less than say 20 feet tall could not possibly look down at the image. Viewing is by means of their reflection in a tilted mirror above the piece. The view throws the floor underneath the piece up as vertical backdrop to the scene, this makes the world look like various planes have been cracked and twisted, what is vertical we see as horizontal and what is floor we see as a desiccated crumbling cliff. As if the actual scene itself wasn’t sufficiently surreal.

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The effect of evidently drawing on paper, cutting and folding out the outline then viewing from behind is played on with several of the larger drawings on paper.  One would imagine that in any normal domestic environment there is surely a high risk of the cardboard outline getting damaged, or perhaps that just NoLions Towers.

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A collection of water filled jars provide a lens to distort the view of miniature divers, looking like a gathering of Borrowers holding a fetish party.

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Delgado relishes playing with light, we knew that from the painted shadows associated with his street pieces, and a large proportion of the work in this show delights in playing with light, optics and geometry. The painted beam of light in this piece was so convincing the viewer is inclined to seek the source of light behind the hanging picture.

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Scattered around the floor are many more of the conventional Delgado style wall compositions similar to those we have seen on the streets of London. And like on the streets, we see cosmic travel artefacts popping up frequently in his bizarre scenes

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Pablo Delgado @ Pure Evil Gallery

In a show where the bizarre is the norm and the surreal is commonplace, one of the weirdest aspects is the sight of shadows without their casting figure, a sight which is also common on the streets where the paste up has disappeared through natural causes – decay or theft. In this show Delgado surprises us with the development of his techniques but that element of cute humour present in his simpler street works has not evaporated in the translation. A very enjoyable and intriguing show well worth a visit. Like a visitor to Disneyland, that other well known land of suspended disbelief, be prepared to discover that it's a small world after all.

More photos HERE

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Olek, Injustice, Anti Slavery International, Dirty White Cotton

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Ready mades – the term coined by Duchamp when he elevated everyday pissoirs to works of art – is annexed by Poland/NY artist Olek to describe in one way the main form of her work, "Crochet Readymades". It is worth googling the images of the effect she has when she cloaks public sculpture in crochet art. There is a lot more to her work, including performance art where she dresses up volunteers in full body crochet morph suits to interact with the public.

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Amusing interaction,man in Olek crochet body suit, Olek UK Solo show 2012.

Anyone who thinks slavery died out with the 19th century deeds of William Wilberforce and the Slavery Abolition Act needs to take a peek around themselves, detention and exploitation thrives all around us, even here in London where immigrant workers have their passports confiscated by gangmasters, are obliged to live in insanitary overcrowded conditions at exorbitant rent and paid such a pittance that they are never out of the debt of their gangmasters.

Olek is showing her support for the work of slavery international by hanging this massive four panel crochet piece at Village Underground, London this week. Here is a very short time lapse of the panels being installed - Click through to view it properly on Olek's Vimeo stream!

Olek In London from olek on Vimeo.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

September 29th - October 5th, 2012
Village Underground, London, UK

The “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” quote is from a letter written by Martin Luther King from a Birmingham (Alabama) Jail in 1963.

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Olek, Village Underground,

The statement resonates with Olek’s own personal predicament, following an incident on a visit to the UK around the time of her solo show at Tony’s Gallery last year, Olek has been found guilty despite the incident arising as she defended herself against the unwanted and excessive attentions of a man in a bar. Olek is expecting sentencing this week and is currently restricted by an ASBO style tag. Again, Life and Art are inseparable

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Olek - Free At Last?

Village underground hosts an art show and auction this Wednesday (3rd Oct 12) staged by Street Art Against Slavery to benefit Anti Slavery International. Details of the auction can be found HERE. Olek is supporting this cause and her piece on Great Eastern Street is part of the event.

Street Artists Against Slavery, Weds 3 OCt 2012, rsvp essential (link below)

While addressing this worthy issue it is worth mentioning a couple of other closely related street art interventions. Firstly, insulation tape artists AD/SO who also has donated work to the Street Artists Against Slavery auction executed this stunning 8 story piece on the multi storey car park very close to Village Underground.


We also came across this Mear One piece “Freedom For Humanity” looking stunning on Hanbury St.

Freedom To Humanity (detail) - MEAR ONE
Mear One

Finally, Dr D has been getting up some paste up to show support for a documentary exposing labour exploitation and its consequences in the cotton trade, and if there is one thing we have learned about Dr d its that he only does good cause.

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Dr d., The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold

The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold is being produced by Leah Borromeo (some readers may know her by the name Montris), the film needs some funding and Dr d. is releasing this Dot and Nick Cotton (venerable and slightly un-hinged stars of UK soap opera Eastenders”) print to raise funds to support the production of this film. Details of the fund raising and Dr d print are HERE, support it!

Wrapping up on a lighter note, the day after Olek installed the crochet work, someone darned (damn – I hope that is the right word) a heart into the piece overnight. A wool love tag. Wow! Piece over tag, yarn outline over Crochet Readymade, whatever the unwritten rules of crochet piecing and tagging are its lovely to see wool dogging is nice and sweet and supportive!

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Heart Olek

Street Art Against Slavery
Anti Slavery International
The Cotton Film: Dirty White Gold

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Phlegm in Bantry, Ireland

All photos: NoLionsInEngland

Holiday time in West Cork meant contriving an excuse to pop in to Bantry to track down a stunning pair of Phlegm murals. Like the best treats, the work reveals itself in stages. The first sighting is a figure working with a shovel; then the back of the property reveals a ground to roof mural and then beyond that, the drab back wall of the yard has been given a stunning facelift with a fantastic mechanical fish-submarine tableau.

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Art invites you to make your own mind up about what it might mean so here is what these beautiful pieces conjured up in my on-leave brain. The top figure is sprinkling buildings which fan out into streets and villages. He is a property maker. The gizmo he holds in his hands has the shape and function of a magnifying glass, the properties look larger as they pass through.   This growth, increase and expansion could be a metaphor for Ireland’s recent and disastrous property bubble.

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The figure that magics up these properties and fuels this boom, well that has to be allude to the banks and the property developers not to mention politicians and regulators who all colluded in fabricating the myth that anyone on the property ladder was suddenly stupendously and stupidly rich.

The villages are stunningly rendered with a Lowry-esque kind of detail.

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At the bottom of the scene a gloomy figure doesn’t possess magical powers, he has a shovel. He could be clearing up the mess, though that wouldn’t be right as the repercussions of the property bust will depress Ireland for a long time. Perhaps he is the demolition man come to wipe away the housing over-supply and level the un-finished speculative housing developments that ring Ireland’s major cities like a necklace of smashed snail shells. He could be the property maker’s alter ego, reclaiming the property after the property bubble savings destruction mechanism did its damage. The property maker spins the kind of bright wholesome aura a marketer of fibre and fruit breakfast cereal might be proud of, while the lower guy seems to be a dark miserable drudge, dolefully labouring among the inevitable detritus of delusion.

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Who cares if this is completely wrong or if there is a far more obvious truth, it’s just the way I like to look at it. A charming lady from the West Cork Development Partnership housed in the painted property loves the murals. She posed the question “that figure, male or female?” Looking at the hairy legs I guessed this suggested male, her riposte was“sure a Bantry woman’s legs look like that most of the time”.

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West Cork has a few key economic motors; tourism, farming and filling in EU grant applications. The second Phlegm masterpiece chimes with the area’s other significant enterprise, commercial fishing. This mural has the fantastical world Phlegm characters commonly create for themselves. The Heath Robinson mechanism looks vaguely plausible, the characters’ clothing is intricately detailed.

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Shame the wobbly hoist obscured the small detail in front of the fish-sub

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These Phlegm beauties were actually rather difficult to find, located in a tight inconspicuous alleyway leading into a non descript back yard right on the edge of the “town” bit of Bantry, anyone making the pilgrimage should look for the junction of Main Street and Market Street. These pieces first came to my attention from the fascinating video clip by My One Colour showing the various roller, spraypaint and brush techniques employed by Phlegm.

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Sunday, 19 August 2012

TRP v. ID - Graff Battle

Curtain Rd, London

Sat 18 Aug 2012

Expect sparks when two crews collide. Fills get abstract, characters pose, outlines pop, shines burst and backgrounds flare yet the real stress causing graff foreheads to pucker is not the law or the pikeys robbing’s the clock!

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Two of London’s finest, TRP with CEPTs’s galactic concepts, SNOE’s awesome fills and BRK’s letters bump up against ID crew. ID rock up understrength, shorthanded; 2 v 4, no chance surely.

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Dr Food rocks the decks while Pure Evil whips it up on mic, Strongroom Alive pumps it out into internet world. Time is running out, the ID character is looking rocky, TRP smoke up a flaming background, Judge A was thinking TRP but now thinks ID, Judge B changes his mind constantly.

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TRP - the can that shines

10 minutes to go, large piece of blank background on the ID side, a character remains a fuzzy exploration in muddy colours while TRP dink shines off corners and outline their Bode characters. Perhaps in sympathy for the overwhelmed ID boys, TRP step up to fill in the cactus on ID territory marking the boundary between the two pieces. From a perch in the shade it looks like a lot of pressure.

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Heat and aerosol fumes drive dogs mad and Englishmen to beer. ID’s piece is partially obscured by a large awning while BRK feels at home in the almost Mediterranean conditions. An Extra 15 minutes is decreed by the judges.

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TRP fill

ID: "RC"

Whistle! Goddamn, a reminder of a football match is the last thing I needed having hotfooted it over from seeing my team spanked 0-5 at home just a couple of hours earlier. The audience whoop-ometer is pretty inclusive, people just like cheering like pavlovian beerhounds. Three judges step forward. Andy from Stussy, a dude with a pedigree graff alter ego plumps for ID, feeling that completing the character then getting an outline round that made it pop wins the day. Pure Evil, colour lover, sides with TRP. All down to the third judge who extols the virtues of both pieces in a pretty even-handed way before going for ID!!! Wooooooooo wooooo wooooooooo.

ID character

TRP chaacter (yup - thought that about the little finger too)

ID character

Interestingly, hardly anyone could read what the writing actually said so I am grateful for one of the writers telling me what the two crews wrote was “Can You Feel The Force”, TRP piecing “FEEL” and ID writing “FORCE”.

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TRP: can u FEEL

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Them judges had a pretty hard call to make. ID’s medallion wearing character, hands spread wide came together right at the end though the late addition of shine to the character was a backward step. The 4 man TRP produced a more polished looking piece and a sweet background not to mention joiner arrows with nice fill leaks. However ID’s letters popped a bit better off their flatter plain red background. Neither crew's work is up to the usual standards expected of these crews when piecing down a HOF or jam, blame the time pressure, probably.  Tough decision, who cares, chill and enjoy. Could be worse, could have been stuck down an airless rabbit hole under a train track.

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